Autoimmune Disease Support Group

Our  Mascots are Marlie and Wilson!  

Vacation From Your Illness

A vacation could make a difference!

When was the last time you even took a vacation?  If you are anything like me and Patrick, well, the answer is just sad.  We have not had a proper vacation since 2006! 

Now Pat went out on disability in 2005 and after going from part-time to full time to help cover the loss of his full time earnings, I began to get sicker and sicker until finally going out of work in 2008. 

There was not even a THOUGHT of a vacation until this year!  Between each of our separate illnesses, many many surgeries between us, and plain old lack of money...  a vacation was just not in the cards for us...  until this year.

Even though Pat still needs monthly infusions, he's doing better, and I am actually doing fairly well most days!  It's a matter of me just walking the tightrope and keeping my balance with stress, exerting myself, and taking the best care of myself that I can.

I think a well planned out vacation can actually ADD to my level of wellness!  It is important to change your surroundings and reconnect with your family and recharge your battery!

It can make a world of difference in your chronic pain levels, relieve some of your brain fog!  A good vacation can help with your chronic fatigue!  It can most definitely reduce your stress levels!!!  People that work take at least one vacation a year!  Don't you think you deserve at least one every few years???  I know I do!

So this year, we are finally going to do it!  And soon!  So what can I do to make sure that my vacation is restful and relaxing?  That I don't end up regretting my decision to try this?  Well, read on! 

First of all, it's in the planning!

You need to plan far enough in advance that you can save a little money each month, even $100 a month adds up quickly!  Treat this account as if it doesn't exist!  Deductions are not allowed!  For any reason! 

The next stage is to pick a place to go!  This is the exciting part!  You and your family can do this together!  First, come up with the broad picture.  Do you want to avoid travel on an airplane?  Or would you prefer to arrive quickly, thus avoiding the hours on end cramped up in a car?  There is no one right answer!  Whatever makes sense for how you feel, where your pain is, and how you will feel upon arrival!  (Nothing would be worse than to be out of commission on arrival because you hadn't counted on getting air sickness or jet lag!)

Where will you stay?  Camping is probably the cheapest form of vacationing, but can you sleep in a tent?  Will you prefer a hotel?  Keep in mind that all-inclusive's aren't such a bargain if you have a lot of dietary restraints and don't drink alcohol!

Getting Ready To Go

You will want to make an itinerary, and stick to it closely!  Don't try to pack too much fun into each day! Use your body as a guide.  Are you at your best early in the day?  Plan things early and then allow for a rest period afterwards.  If you are like me, and need a good bit of time in the morning, plan your activities for the afternoon! Work with your body, not against it.  Balance sight-seeing with rest periods.  Balance is key!

Start packing about a month in advance.  It seems extreme, but it can take hours and hours to pack just for yourself!  If you are packing for a spouse, or an entire family, you will want and NEED a month! 

Get a "Vacation" notebook.  Give each person you are packing for TWO sheets of paper.  Write things on the lists as they come to you well before you even pull out your suitecases.  Save PAGE ONE for items you need to purchase (new sunscreen!).

Don't begin packing until you have a good window of time to work with, and you feel rested enough to do it.  It's a more physical task than you would think, a lot of back and forth to dressers and closets. 

Don't load the suitecase until you have everything laid out.  Use your bed to make stacks of items:  a stack of tee-shirts, a stack of shorts, two bathing suits, swimsuite cover-up, beach towel, flip flops, a stack of pajamas, a stack of underwear, a pile of sock, one or two pair of jeans, two pairs of sneakers, etc...  once you have everyting on your list, THEN you can begin loading up the suitcase!

Depending on where you are going, you will need to decide how much spending money you will need to take, and in what form will you carry it?  Cash, traveler's checks?  It's also a good idea to have a credit card with a decent open balance to bring with you.  You may decide ahead of time if you will keep the cash in the bank at home, use the credit card for all transactions, and then pay it off in full upon returning home.  OR, if you use cash and take the credit card for TRUE emergencies (no, the adorable tankini in aquamarine is NOT an emergency!)

You will also need to make arrangements for any pets you have.  Will you board them?  Have a pet sitter come to the home?  Have a house-sitter stay while you are gone?  Each of these options cost money.  You will need to budget and save accordingly. 

Most of us women need to preen before laying on a beach (or pool) somewhere...  plan and allow time to touch up your roots, hair cuts, waxing, mani-pedi.  Obviously, most of this can be done yourself if you prefer to save money.  I actually love these tasks because I find I get more and more excited with each step!  The suspense is building every day since the day you decided to go!

While you are doing any of these activites, even making the lists, enjoy it!  Appreciate that you are well enough to go away from home!  Basque in the fact that you will have glorious uninterrupted time with the ones you love!  Let each step be exciting, not a chore.

Other Considerations

I like to build in at least a day or two into my calendar on both sides of the trip.  At least a day before I go, and at least two days upon returning home.  Those days I refer to as "keep open" days.  If I write k.o. on my calendar, it reminds me not to schedule anything on those days, not doctor's appointments, not even visits with friends.  Those days are for rest and recovery from exertion.  They are invaluable for keeping my balance with my health.  Besides, you will likely need them to unpack and do laundry!

Spending money:  Assuming you pay for your travel, hotel and vehicle prior to leaving home, you will still want to have enough spending money so as to have a nice time. AND to avoid stressing out each and every day if you will have enough money to last!  That is NO way to have a vacation!

You will require a minimum of two meals a day (most hotels offer a free buffet brunch) and if you time it so that you eat brunch on the late side, you can plan a snack for 2 or 3 pm and then dinner.  Now by snack, I do not mean "treats"!  No, cotton candy and fudge are not snacks!  They are treats!  A snack is approximately 200 calories that your body can use for FUEL!  Stock your room refridgerator with Greek Yogurt, different nuts, cheeses and fruits!  Wholesome crackers like Triscuits or Wheatthins are a great idea!  Bring a small insulated lunch bag and a frozen cooler pack so that you can bring snacks and water instead of paying $4.50 for a 12 oz water!

I suggest $50-100 per person per day. There are cheaper alternatives:    You can have dinner at Denny's instead of at the 4 star Surf & Turf restaurant with the wine list 14 feet long!  Having the extra money is not a bad thing!  Everyone will want souveniers and something for their best friend and grandmother!  And if you get home and didn't spend everything you brought, you can begin saving for next year!

Now go!  Enjoy!